Five Things To Do For Your Health This Month: November

Fall is settling in, and November is a good time to assess this year’s health harvest. How are you doing compared to last year? Here are some tips for simple ways to improve your health this month:

1) Vote: You may think that taking the time to vote has nothing to do with your health. Research shows, however, that people who are connected and involved in their communities tend to live healthier, longer lives. Voting is a way to join with others in the nation, and let your voice be heard. Voting isn’t just a national issue – it’s way to know what the issues are locally, and a doorway to getting more involved in your community. If you’re retired, unemployed, looking for a cause without making an open-ended commitment, or just lonely, consider signing up to man (or woman) election booths as a staffer. It’s a good way to make a one-time commitment, connect with other people, and make a difference.

2) Reach out: November 11 is Veteran’s Day. Take a moment to do a little something for the men and women who have, all too often, given their lives or health for us as a nation. Send a card, make a small (or large) donation to a any of a number of organizations, mail a care package through the USO program, or consider making a larger commitment to band together with some friends to sponsor a family during the holidays. You can contact your local VA about volunteer opportunities if you’d rather donate your time. And don’t forget about the many homeless veterans – consider giving a gift of time or money to a shelter or soup kitchen too. How does this impact your own personal health? Regular acts of altruism have been shown in numerous studies in many populations to improve our health, our sense of well-being, and even the length of our lives. You get back when you give.

3) Clean – November 14 is, believe it or not, Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. Do we actually need a day like this? Well, every month should have at least one relatively silly day – and this one has the combined benefit of reducing your risk of food-borne diseases. Do you have pickles from another geologic era? Are you afraid of what may be discovered if you thaw your freezer? Be bold- just have your woolly mammoth club handy, crank up the music and get to it.

4) Hike – November 17 is national Take A Hike Day. What the heck were these people thinking? Didn’t anyone tell them it’s cold, wet and dark? Well, that’s actually the point. Take the time to reconnect with the outdoors, just when most of us are starting to burrow in – you’ll discover all over again the wonder of falling leaves, the feel of your cold nose tingling, and the joy of getting outside, even when it’s drizzling. Exercise can happen all year, and a good walk is a great way to start your weight-gain-avoidance plan before the heavy hit of the holidays!

5) Give Thanks – Who could leave this day out? Before Thanksgiving blows past, leaving you smeared and bloated in the dust, plan how you really want to give thanks. Not just on one day, but all this next year. Gratitude is a key part of developing the habit of joy. How about a small notebook in your glove compartment – when you think you’re about to boil over with frustration, make yourself pull to the side of the road and write down 3 things you can be thankful for. Perhaps you’ll start doing it before you even crank the engine. Or how about a family bed-time ritual, where everyone says one thing they’re grateful for at the end of the day. You might be surprised at the things your kids notice and mention – both the comical and the profound. Finally, make sure you plan how you want your season of holidays to leave you feeling – studies have shown that we tend to gain a few pounds during this season. While the number, for most of us, is relatively small, the larger issue is that we often don’t ever lose them again, and so they add up. Also, the holidays can make us veer into extremes of poor health habits, followed by extremes of spartan/dieting/rigid living, which don’t sustain our health over time. Plan for an even keel in all things, but especially health, as the holiday season sets in.

Be well!

Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons

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